Council refuses to build 11,700 houses over 10 years

Horsham District Council has refused to provide 1,715 homes a year for the next decade, saying that although it recognises the strong demand for new homes in West Sussex, “it is difficult enough already to find land that has few constraints for development and to absorb 1,715 homes every year would make that task virtually impossible”.

Government plans to kickstart the economy include a consultation on reforming the planning system in England, and under the proposals, Horsham District Council would be obliged to double the number of homes it provides in a year, from 920 to 1,715.

“The council has consistently challenged the Government over housing numbers and its aggressive timetables. It is clear however that the Government sees construction as a key driver of economic recovery,” says the press release.

“We understand the requirement on all councils to produce plans that show where future development could go in their areas and we recognise that strong demand for new homes exists in West Sussex. We equally understand that not having any plan would not help and would instead, play into the hands of speculative developers. This would result in uncontrolled development across the district.”

The council says it will take legal advice before responding officially to the government, which says there should be a public consultation as well as its own.

“We want to hear from residents and so we have set up an on-line poll for people to vote to say firstly whether they agree or disagree with our view on the proposed house build numbers and secondly to give us views to help our response to the Governments consultation,” the council says.

“To now have proposals that would give us almost the highest house building number in the south east of England was a bolt from the blue,” said Cllr Claire Vickers, Cabinet Member for Planning and Development.

“We very much hope that as we are a good way through producing a new plan we can continue with that and thus put off for some years the imposition on the district of the sort of completely unattainable housing numbers that have now been proposed.”

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